It feels strange to admit that, on many levels, launching a magazine this spring has given me more pleasure and contentment than completing the expedition of a lifetime did in 2014. It’s been three years in the making, and I still can’t quite believe it’s come to fruition. I wrote the following for my first ever Editor’s Letter, and they’re still the best words I’ve found to sum it up:
Avaunt is a magazine dedicated to adventure in the broadest possible sense. We will feature feats of endeavour and endurance from the wildest, highest, deepest, hottest and coldest corners of the earth, and we will bring you stories from respected writers and thinkers about adventures in technology, music, science, style and culture, and about the pioneers and the innovations that are shaping our world. We will offer discerning portrayals of extraordinary men and women, people who are pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible – and we are unashamed about the fact that style will run through all of it. After all, the Earl of Karnarvon cracked open Tutankhamen’s tomb wearing a Norton & Son’s suit; George Mallory died on Everest in a tailored tweed Norfolk jacket; Amelia Earheart launched her own clothing line in the 1930s (“for the woman who lives actively”) and Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed Everest without oxygen for the first time in natty Fila down suits. Style transcends clothing alone. “How you climb a mountain,” Yvon Chouinard wrote, “is more important than reaching the top.”
Avaunt’s etymology is Middle English, and in turn comes from the Old French word avant (“to the front”). Authors and playwrights used it most as an interjection, a sort of get thee gone -“Avaunt ye witlings who with jibes and jeers would turn my honest conceptions into mockery”- but we like the verb, to move forward, to advance or to elevate. Whichever way you slice it, it’s a word about hitting the road and going somewhere else. Somewhere better. As Alain de Botton wrote in The Art of Travel, “It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are.” We are proud of what we’ve created and hope you find the words and pictures that follow both enjoyable and inspiring, and that you’ll join us in raising a metaphorical toast to those still quietly chipping away at the edges of the unknown.
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